Recently, a friend asked me if I have any plans for a 16th or 17th century herb garden. Of course, that got me thinking; and the more I think about it the more excited I become! Actually, I have been puzzling all winter over where to grow all the herbs I want to have this year.
This circular garden with the birdbath is my herb garden now, but it is much too small. Many herbs look lovely in the flower garden, but I'd also like to give them a garden of their own.
If you've seen my rather messy flower gardens, you'll probably be shocked when I say that I am very much attracted to formal herbs gardens! But apparently I am not alone...I was just reading the chapter on herb gardens in Louise Beebe Wilder's book, "My Garden" where she writes that "however wild, or natural, or irregular we may care to be in our flower gardens, in the herb garden we have no precedent for being aught but prim and tidy and geometrical".
But alas, I have very little room left for my ever-expanding gardens! Perhaps the birdbath garden will have to do for the majority of the herbs right now. I think there is some room left to enlarge it yet.
I couldn't resist planting several Foxgloves, Sweet Williams, Stocks, Mignonettes and Heartsease among the herbs last year and although it was lovely, I sometimes felt that I had spoiled it as a true herb garden. Well, it is truly amazing how many plants that we often think of only as flowers could have a proper place in the herb garden also! Looking through Mrs. Grieve's "A Modern Herbal", I was surprised and delighted to come across so many favorites, such as the Forget-me-not, Love-lies-bleeding, Foxglove, Heartsease, Heliotrope, Muscari, Narcissus, Snapdragon, Peony, and so many, many others! Nearly every plant in my garden has been used for something and I am getting thrills as I write just thinking about all the history growing there! Hilda Leyel sums up my feelings exactly when she says, "Surely it makes a garden more romantic and wonderful to know that Wallflowers, Irises, Lupins, Delphiniums, Columbines, Dahlias and Chysanthemums, every flower in the garden from the first Snowdrop to the Christmas Rose, are not only there for man's pleasure but have their compassionate use in his pain".
So, if I can't have the grand formal herb garden just yet, maybe it is time to see my whole garden as an herb garden and a living history! What do you think?
I am a passionate gardener and seed-saver, who also enjoys playing the violin and accordion, running, spending time with my 4 golden retrievers, keeping chickens, photography, and reading. I also blog for Heirloom Gardener.